June 15, 2011
How Club Structure Impacts Development by Christian Lavers
While the coach interacting with the players on a daily basis is the key influencer in their individual development, there are many structural factors surrounding the club that will impact the likelihood of a player reaching his or her potential.
Some factors are more obvious than others, but having an understanding of how club structure impacts growth is helpful both: (i) as a club director considering how to build your organization; and (ii) as a parent looking to make long-term decisions about where your child should play. Some examples:
* Controlled Coaching Turnover: In general, it is very difficult for a coach to remain with the same group of players for more than four years. Over time, the messages from the coach tend to get stale (since they’ve been heard so frequently), and the opinions of the coach about individual players (and of the players about the coach) tend to become rigid and inflexible. For this reason, controlled changes over time within the coaching staff working with a team are important.
At the pivotal skill development age groups of U12-U14, where players change physically and mentally very quickly, it is advisable that the coaching staff changes somewhat even after two years. When you see the same coaches staying with the same group of players for six-seven years, (which many of us have done at one time or another), it is usually a sign of a very special relationship between the coach and a group of players, or a lack of depth in the club’s coaching pool.
* Coaching Development: Just as coaches should be in the “business” of developing soccer players, clubs should be in the “business” of developing soccer coaches. Clubs that take seriously the need to develop their own coaches tend to be better at developing soccer players.
Check back next wee for the continuation of this great article.